Friday, 19 August 2016

You Get What You Pay For

It's said a picture is worth a thousand words, well this is what happens to your share price if you are an American prison operator and the US government unexpectedly announces the intention to phase out the use of private federal prisons:-

Given the fondness political parties and think tanks in the UK have for US-style criminal justice matters, and especially those on the right, this announcement is potentially of great significance for privatisations over here that are clearly not working. It will certainly not go unnoticed by the privateers who were tempted to get involved with TR as a first step towards what they regard as the bigger prize of running prisons. This from the Washington Post:-

Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

In an interview, Yates said there are 13 privately run privately run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system, and they will not close overnight. Yates said the Justice Department would not terminate existing contracts but instead review those that come up for renewal. She said all the contracts would come up for renewal over the next five years.

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report.

Disturbances in the facilities, the report said, led in recent years to “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.” The report listed several examples of mayhem at private facilities, including a May 2012 riot at the Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi in which 20 people were injured and a correctional officer killed. That incident, according to the report, involved 250 inmates who were upset about low-quality food and medical care.

“The fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably to Bureau of Prisons facilities in terms of safety or security or services, and now with the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something about that,” Yates said.

The problems at private facilities were hardly a secret, and Yates said Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons officials had been talking for months about discontinuing their use. Mother Jones recently published a 35,000-word exposé detailing a reporter’s undercover work as a private prison guard in Louisiana — a piece that found serious deficiencies. The Nation magazine wrote earlier this year about deaths under questionable circumstances in privately operated facilities.

In her memo, Yates wrote that the Bureau of Prisons began contracting with privately run institutions about a decade ago in the wake of exploding prison populations, and by 2013, as the federal prison population reached its peak, nearly 30,000 inmates were housed in privately operated facilities. But in 2013, Yates wrote, the prison population began to decline because of efforts to adjust sentencing guidelines, sometimes retroactively, and to change the way low-level drug offenders are charged. She said the drop in federal inmates gave officials the opportunity to reevaluate the use of private prisons.

Yates wrote that private prisons “served an important role during a difficult time period,” but they had proven less effective than facilities run by the government. The contract prisons are operated by three private corporations, according to the inspector general’s report: Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation. The Bureau of Prisons spent $639 million on private prisons in fiscal year 2014, according to the report.

Yates said it was “really hard to determine whether private prisons are less expensive” and whether their closure would cause costs to go up, though she said officials did not anticipate having to hire additional Bureau of Prisons staff.

“Bottom line, I’d also say, you get what you pay for,” Yates said.



This from the Another Angry Voice blog suggests the news from the US might just turbo-charge things over here:-

Instead of getting angry about their lost opportunity to profiteer out of the US justice system, these companies could consider shifting their attention to the ongoing Tory marketisation of the UK justice system.

The Tories are creating huge profiteering opportunities by carving up and privatising all elements of the UK justice system. They're not just intent on building more and more privately operated prisons and detention centres and allowing private companies to use prisoners as cheap labour, they've also been busy trying to privatise front line police services (Theresa May is a big advocate of police privatisation), court facilities and services, electronic tagging (subject to a massive £180 million tagging fraud by G4S and Serco), and probation services. They've also been trying to reform legal aid in order to drive smaller specialist practices out of business and hand a bigger market share to multinational behemoths like Serco, G4S and Capita.

The conflicts of interest are absolutely obvious when the privatised police unit that makes the arrest, the forensic science unit, the legal aid lawyer, the courtroom facilities and services, and the private prison are all operated by the same small cabal of corporations, then upon release the probation officer and the electronic tagging company are run by the same corporations too.

If a rare display of evidence based policy making drives the private prison profiteers out of the US justice system, they can be assured that the Tories will welcome them with open arms to help them with their project to turn the UK justice system into a conflict of interest riddled free-for-all for corporate profiteers.


  1. Buy those cheap shares up now! President Trumpet will soon have the private prisons filled up again with terrorists, foreign nationals & anyone who disagrees with him, Erdogan-style. And then your shares will be worth $$$quillions!!

  2. Not sure if this story has been aired earlier, but it ties in with the blog theme -
    a couple of months back uK soldiers complained about the poor standard of Sodexo food they were being served, including mouldy eggs, uncooked chicken, infested salad & otherwise wholly unsavoury products. Both The Mirror & Mail covered the story. This extract from the Mail:

    "Soldiers have now apparently also been warned by senior NCO's that Sodexo may sue servicemen who paint a negative picture of their catering standards.
    One anonymous soldier posted online: 'I'm at [my base] and just got a brief from the troop admin, from the RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major).
    'No-one is to post anything online about Sodexo, someone took a photo of a comments book from the cook house and posted it online, not sure where, so now Sodexo is bringing in a legal team and anyone caught posting things online about Sodexo will face legal action for 'corporate slander'."
    'If the lads aren't lying and can prove the food is unacceptable then they cannot be done with slander - John Sartain, Facebook
    Fellow squaddies and ex-servicemen posted their responses to the allegation and argued that Sodexo did not have a case to answer. Others claimed that senior staff were merely making the threats as a 'scare tactic' to keep soldiers in line."

    You gets what you pay for!

    1. There was a petition:-

      Investigate the standard of food served to the military and Sodexo services.

      I have witnessed the standard of food served to the military. Sodexo provides unhealthy food cold and substandard services . government spend less per head on a soldier than it does on a prisoner.

      Photographic evidence from multiple sources and sites. Poor use of tax payer money and shameful to do this to the military personnel. Complaints ignored and these meals would be unsuitable for a school so why ok for a soldier?

      Government response:-

      The standard of food and ingredients provided to Armed Forces personnel by both military and civilian kitchen staff is set by MOD policy, which ensures that there is a nutritious and balanced menu.

      Various assurance activities take place including contract monitoring, site visits, reviews, customer engagement and assurance by single Service catering subject matter experts to improve on the service provided.

      Defence personnel are offered core meals, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner with set calorific and nutritional standards, including unlimited access to carbohydrates and vegetables. However, personnel are not restricted to the core meals and may choose any of the other options available. The core meals provide access to a nutritionally balanced meal at cost price, meaning that there is no profit made on them.

      The contractors delivering the Catering Retail and Leisure contracts also have the ability to provide alternative meal options which are outside the Core Meal costs, including healthy options.

      The MOD is committed to ensuring that Service personnel receive good quality meals, and that complaints are taken seriously. As part of our commitment to ensuring the standard of food provided, the Army have appointed David Morgan-Hewitt, Managing Director of The Goring hotel in London, as their honorary catering advisor.

      We have a number of mechanisms in place to ensure that the standard of food provided is monitored and that any issues identified are dealt with as quickly as possible.

      Complaints can be raised through the chain of command or directly with the contractor through a complaints book, which should be located in the mess. The MOD and Sodexo are working jointly to review and resolve the recent issues raised.

      Ministry of Defence

    2. Sometimes they don't really want you you know what you're getting when you pay for it.


  3. It is ridiculous to suggest that the services are reviewed by quality assurance or contract management types and found to be ok when it is reviewed daily by thousands of service users who say it is most certainly not. Efforts to justify the facts by weasel words are futile as the people who are using the service KNOW what it wrong with it. The purpose of these statements is to defend the Ministers and commissioners who put these services in the hands of the private sector KNOWING that this would result in poorer service (we ALL know, we ALL see it time and time again) and to defend the privateers whose own weasel words were used to destroy a whole range of services across the public sector.

    We see you.